Srebrenica Mothers Exchange Experience with Kosovo Families of Missing

At the invitation of associations of families of missing persons in Kosovo, a group of three Srebrenica family association representatives are visiting Kosovo from Bosnia-Herzegovina to participate in the commemoration of missing from the village of Meja on April 27 and to exchange experience with associations of families of missing persons in Kosovo.The annual event gathers thousands of local residents in memory of the 374 victims who were taken from Meja, near Gjakova in Kosovo on that April 27, 1999. To date, the bodies of 182 of them have been identified and 166 have been buried. On April 27, 2005 an additional 16 identified persons will be buried. The remains of victims from Meja were exhumed from mass graves in Batajnica, Serbia and were identified with the assistance of DNA matching by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The Srebrenica family representatives will make public remarks as part of the program in order to show their solidarity and sympathy for the suffering of the Kosovo families.

The exchange of experience between associations in Kosovo and Srebrenica will include discussions about planning of annual commemorations, the development of memorials and cemeteries, contacts with families and the experiences dealing with the identification process, especially of remains buried in mass graves, publishing newsletters about the missing persons issue, family association coordination, and cooperation with government authorities.

Another objective of the visit is raising public awareness about the missing persons issue in the region and the need for further efforts to clarify their fate. The Srebrenica representatives will participate in media outreach, which will include guest appearances on local Kosovo radio and television.

The families from Kosovo and Srebrenica met each other initially at regional conferences organized by ICMP. As well as its scientific programs to identify the missing and promote appropriate government policies on the missing, ICMP works with family associations of the missing, encouraging them to work together, supporting association advocacy activities through grants and training programs, and organizing conferences and meetings aimed at solving common problems and opening paths to reconciliation in post-conflict societies. ICMP provided financial and logistical support for the Meja commemoration and visit of the Srebrenica family members to Kosovo.